Patron of Reading begins a new chapter

At the start of term, Clayesmore Prep School was delighted to welcome author Gillian Cross, as our new Patron of Reading and Writing. Gillian takes over the mantle from Ali Sparkes whose spell as Patron saw the creation of two anthologies of pupils’ work: ‘Then and Now’ and ‘The Clayesmore Quest’.

The author of almost sixty books, including the ‘Demon Headmaster’ series, Gillian Cross whetted young appetites as she shared various excerpts from her 2013 title ‘After Tomorrow’ with pupils in Years 7 and 8. They were riveted as Gillian told them how she entered the world of writing; creating stories as a child, even sewing together little books, and telling stories as a new mother, Gillian felt the stirrings of the storyteller within her.

The Patron of Reading and Writing will be working with pupils for the next two years – watch this space as their literary talents are unleashed.

A couple of weeks’ later, Gillian returned to begin a project with a group of the Prep’s budding authors: Year 6.

In preparation for this exciting project, members of staff have been busily collecting an array of curious objects such as costume jewellery, wigs, theatrical masks, models and trophies. From this collection, Gillian selected a beaded purse and adroitly assumed the role of the owner. The children asked questions which enabled the character to develop and take shape. Gillian proved an engaging actress, becoming “Anne Moppett” confidently and convincingly. Lots of hands were raised and a host of probing questions asked.

Next, it was the turn of the boys and girls, all eager to select an item and create characters of their own. Working in pairs, they interviewed each other. Soon the room was filled, not with Year 6 pupils, but with fascinating characters who could have stepped from the pages of a novel straight into the English room. Gillian showed the children how to compose character webs, incorporating biographical details. These intriguing characters are the basis of the Year 6 project with our Patron of Reading and Writing. We can’t wait for her next visit in a couple of weeks’ time!